Book review: Real Church

Book Review: Real Church by Larry Crabb    **  out of  ****

 I have been meeting many people who have become disenchanted with the church. They are tired of church and don’t really care to go anymore. So, I was interested when I came across Larry Crabb’s 2009 book, Real Church, subtitled: Does it exist? Can I find it? I thought it would be interesting to see how a national Christian leader might tackle the problem.

And, the first half of the book was brutal and honest. Crabb admits he doesn’t really care to go to church anymore. He mentions many other people he has met who feel the same way. His diagnosis comes more from personal experience than any kind of penetrating analysis, but his points are valid nonetheless.

The second half of the book is much weaker as Crabb tries to explain what a Real Church looks like. He is often dismissive of legitimate expressions of faith because they do not currently fit his needs. He never really does cohesively express what a Real Church looks like. The more the reader peels away the layers of Crabb’s thinking, the more confusing the Real Church becomes.

In the end, I don’t know what Crabb is looking for. I don’t even know if Crabb knows what he is looking for.

Overall, the book suffers from a greater problem than Crabb’s inability to express what a Real Church looks like. The greatest problem of the book is that Crabb focuses only on what a church can do for him.

The church does not offer the discipleship he wants. Crabb says the church often hinders his maturity.

The church does not give him the worship he wants. Crabb says he can worship better by himself.

The church does not give him the fellowship he wants. He says he gets better fellowship at a coffee shop with friends.

The church does not give him the content he wants. He says he doesn’t get the depth of preaching he needs.

Throughout the book, I kept asking a single question: But what about what you can give to your church?

Crabb is incredibly knowledgeable. He is obviously a gifted teacher. Imagine how much the people of his church could benefit if he continued to serve there. He would meet people that he normally would not befriend. He would influence people who do not read his books. He might find the kind of community he is seeking.

JFK was stirred a nation with the words, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” If we could barrow his phrase and say, “Ask not what your church can do for you, but what you can do for your church,” we might solve much of what ails the church today.

We might even find Real Church.


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